“Wicked” to make its way to the big screen

New-Wicked-Logo-5x5By Craig Martin

Hit Broadway musicals such as “Les Misérables” and “Into the Woods” may have taken a few decades to reach the big screen, but that might not end up being the case with the stage musical sensation “Wicked.” Producer Marc Platt, who’s film “Into the Woods” is currently in theaters, has confirmed that the “Wicked” movie is currently on a trajectory to reach theaters as soon as 2016.

“Wicked” is the award-winning Broadway musical that premiered in 2003 and based on author Gregory Maguire’s 1995 novel, “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West.” Both the musical and Maguire’s book are revisionist fairy tales that offer a backstory for the Wicked Witch of the West, whose real name is Elphaba, and paint the character as being more of a misunderstood anti-hero, while also revealing untold details about her sister and the witch Glinda.

Platt also, on top of confirming the film’s production, also confirmed the long standing rumor that Oscar-nominee Stephen Daldry, director of such films as “Billy Elliot,” “The Reader” and “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” is the helmsman on Wicked, adding that “He’s been on for a year or two.” The producer also mentioned the screenplay is in the process of being written by Winnie Holzman, who is refashioning her original “Wicked” musical book as a movie script (similar to what James Lapine did with “Into the Woods”).

Walt Disney Pictures offered filmgoers a Wicked Witch of the West backstory in “Oz: the Great and Powerful.” Disney’s 2014 financial hit “Maleficent” was very clearly influenced by “Wicked.” However, whereas those two Disney live-action films were critically-divisive at best, “Wicked” is still regarded as being the gold standard for fairy tale re-tellings that add more depth to their villains and heroes alike.

Daldry, all thing considered, doesn’t sound like a bad choice to bring “Wicked” to the big screen. He’s known for making films that are considered the epitome of Oscar bait, but also a sensitive storyteller. His directorial efforts are, as a general rule, respectable. “Billy Elliot,” the film Daldry made his name with, even has musical genre elements to it (and has since become a stage musical). Daldry clearly has experience in that field too.

Studios have gotten in the habit of releasing their stage musicals-turned films at the end of the year, as will continue in 2015, when 20th Century Fox unveils Hugh Jackman’s P.T. Barnum biographical musical “The Greatest Showman on Earth” on Christmas Day.

“Wicked,” should it be ready to arrive in 2016, would likewise make sense as a winter holiday release. It’s has a mixture of critical prestige and family-friendly appeal that could easily give rise to box office success.

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